Thursday, March 05, 2015

Bear Canyon for a Change of Pace

Although the full trek to Seven Falls seemed a faint dream, we boarded the 9:00 AM shuttle at the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center that would take us up to the Bear Canyon Overlook.



Once at the Overlook it is another two miles along the winding Bear Canyon Trail to the Seven Falls. On the way you have to ford Bear Creek seven times.  No mind we set out anyway!



It was quite nice and afforded plenty of worthwhile views of both the creek and the canyon itself.











About a third of a mile into the canyon, we hit the first creek crossing and it was definitely a tip toe across the stones to get to the other side.



I took a try and made it across, but the better half thought the better of trying it.




Based on the guess that if even one of was a bit leery of crossing the first ford it would probably get worse sometime during the next six crossings. We made a mutual decision that discretion was the better part of valor and decided to turn back.

We had received a small taste of the Bear Canyon experience and avoided the embarrassment of having the mountain rescue unit lug some wringing wet old persons with broken ankles out of the gorge.

Not wanting to be complete wusses and use our return shuttle ticket, we did bravely choose to walk all the way back to the visitor center, which still give us a nice 3 mile round trip for the day. Not too shabby at all for two 77 year olds.

 
 On the walk back we marveled at this hillside just plain covered with Saguaros.
 

 
 

 We saw an Ocotillo (the Devil's Torch) with its now red tips almost ready to pop into fiery flowers.



And then on the top of a rise we came across a large Saguaro with buds forming on the tops of four of its arms.  Budding had been reported in the last week, but this was the first one for us. 

 Unfortunately we probably will have to leave for home before the flowers appear.   The blooms are quite early this year.

We also saw some butterflies on the walk back, but the pictures weren't as good as yesterday.


Echo (Spring) Azure


Could be a Tiny or Black Checkerspot

And pretty sure this is an American Snout

Though not formally a Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly yet, a small caterpillar can be seen on the Pipevine below. The Pipeline Swallowtail only lays its eggs on the Pipevine plant and the caterpillar hatches and starts chewing on the host. I'm not sure you can see it.  It is brown and furry and on the leaf just above and left of center. Try clicking to enlarge the image. Our naturalists spotted the eggs on the plant two weeks ago and the caterpillars last week. Apparently seeing them is extremely rare as the plants are not that common and the eggs and the caterpillars are infinitesimally small.




Our final shot of the day is of an old Coopers Hawk nest that is now apparently being used by a pair of Ravens.  You can just see the outline of the  nest with the Raven standing above. It's a bit hard to see at this distance even with my long lens, but a bird in the nest is worth two in the bush.



Oh lordy it's time for lunch.  Maybe a blackbird baked in a pie.   Bye Bye!
 

 



 



 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

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